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Merit and Education & Retention Award (MERA) Grants

2018-19 MERA Grant Applications available!


 Keystone STARS MERA Awards for Centers and Groups are designed to :

  • Assist Grantees to improve the quality of service and reward early learning and school-age programs for achieving and/or maintaining a STAR 2 level.  (STAR 3 and STAR 4 programs are not eligible for Merit Awards)
  • Provide monetary awards to highly qualified staff for the purpose of establishing a stable workforce, reducing turnover, and increasing the level of educational attainment for early childhood and school-age professionals. (STAR 2, 3, 4).

Programs may receive the maximum of 3 MERA Grants.

Centers and Groups MERIT & ERA paperwork: 

Keystone STARS MERA Awards for Family Providers are designed to:

  • Assist Grantees to improve the quality of service and reward early learning and school-age programs for achieving and/or maintaining a STAR level. (STAR 2, 3, and 4)
  • Provide monetary awards to highly qualified staff for the purpose of establishing a stable workforce, reducing turnover, and increasing the level of educational attainment for early childhood and school-age professionals. (STAR 2, 3, 4)

Programs may receive the maximum of 3 MERA Grants at STAR 2 level.

Family Child Care Home (FCCH) MERIT & ERA Paperwork: 

Other Resources:
Best Practice in STARS Financial Award Spending
Keystone STARS Education and Retention Pro-rated scenarios

Providing financial awards to facilities serving children who are vulnerable and at risk was implemented by OCDEL to promote Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI). For best practices on how to create written justifications of financial award usage and providing recommendations on making intentional decisions about award expenditures, click here. Please update this as well.

To submit your MERA application first, download and complete the appropriate paperwork (FCCH/Center or Group Home STARS Financial Award Request and Budget Workbook). Once you have completed the Request and Budget Workbook, complete the online form below, attaching all forms as requested.

MERIT Award and Education & Retention Award (ERA)


Complete requested information. The signature must be by an individual authorized to submit proposals and sign contracts on behalf of the Contractor.









Have you requested Merit Awards funds for a single item, multiples of the SAME item, a service or a project that is $3,000.00 or more? If so, OCDEL requires two estimates for the same item(s), service(s) or project(s).



Processing your complete application takes time - please be patient and hit the "Submit Application" ONCE ONLY - THANK YOU!

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